Roslyn - Creating an introduce and initialize field refactoring

Here I’ll take a look at how we can create a Roslyn code refactoring using Visual Studio 2015 Preview.

We’ll make a code refactoring that introduces and initializes a field, based on a constructor argument. If you’ve used Resharper you know what I’m talking about.

Creating the project

Fire up Visual Studio, go to File -> New Project (CTRL + Shift + N) and pick “Code Refactoring (VSIX)” under “Extensibility”:

File, new project

The newly created solution consists of two projects:

If we look inside the “CodeRefactoringProvider.cs” file of the code refactoring project, we’ll see that it includes a complete code refactoring as a starting point. In its simplest form implementing a code refactoring consists of three steps:

We can test/debug the default implementation by simply pressing F5, as with any other type of project. This will start an experimental instance of Visual Studio and deploy our VSIX content. We can then open a project, place our cursor on a class definition and click the light bulb (shortcut: CTRL + .). As we can see in the picture below the “Reverse type name” code refactoring is presented as well as a preview of the changes.

Code refactoring popup

Implementing our refactoring

It’s worth mentioning the Roslyn Syntax Analyzer, which is a life saver when trying to wrap your head around syntax trees, syntax nodes, syntax tokens, syntax trivia etc.

Here’s the body of our new ComputeRefactoringsAsync method, let’s go through it:

var root = await context.Document
var node = root.FindNode(context.Span);
var parameter = node as ParameterSyntax;
if (parameter == null)

var parameterName = RoslynHelpers.GetParameterName(parameter);
var underscorePrefix = "_" + parameterName;
var uppercase = parameterName.Substring(0, 1)
                             .ToUpper() + 

if (RoslynHelpers.VariableExists(root, parameterName, underscorePrefix, uppercase))

var action = CodeAction.Create(
    "Introduce and initialize field '" + underscorePrefix + "'",
    ct => 
    CreateFieldAsync(context, parameter, parameterName, underscorePrefix, ct));


As before we’re getting the node that’s selected by the user, but this time we’re only interested if it’s a node of type ParameterSyntax. I used the Roslyn Syntax Analyzer mentioned earlier to figure out what to look for.

Once we’ve found the correct node type we extract the parameter name and create different variations of it, to search for existing fields with those names. If the parameter name is “bar”, we’ll look for that as well as “_bar” and “Bar”.

if none of the variables exist we register our refactoring.

Now for the second and somewhat more tricky part, the actual refactoring logic. RoslynQouter is of great help here, since it shows what API calls we need to make to construct the syntax tree for a given program.

Here’s the code, we’ll go through it below:

private async Task<Document> CreateFieldAsync(
           CodeRefactoringContext context, ParameterSyntax parameter,
           string paramName, string fieldName, 
           CancellationToken cancellationToken)
    var oldConstructor = parameter
    var newConstructor = oldConstructor

    var oldClass = parameter
    var oldClassWithNewCtor = 
                 oldClass.ReplaceNode(oldConstructor, newConstructor);

    var fieldDeclaration = RoslynHelpers.CreateFieldDeclaration(
                RoslynHelpers.GetParameterType(parameter), fieldName);
    var newClass = oldClassWithNewCtor.WithMembers(
                                      .Insert(0, fieldDeclaration))

    var oldRoot = await context.Document
    var newRoot = oldRoot.ReplaceNode(oldClass, newClass);

    return context.Document.WithSyntaxRoot(newRoot);

First we find the original class constructor, which contains our parameter.

We use that and add an assignment expression in the body of the modified constructor. So if the original constructor was like this:

public Foo(int bar)

the assignment expression results in this:

public Foo(int bar)
	_bar = bar;

We take the old class declaration and create a new one with the constructor replaced.

Then we create the field declaration:

private readonly int _bar;

Finally we insert the field declaration as the first member in our new class declaration, format our code and return the new document.

The final result

Code refactoring popup

The result will not put Resharper out of business any time soon, but I’m happy that it was quite easy to get started :-)

The “RoslynHelpers” class i created could be replaced with extension methods, but checking out Roslyn was my main focus here.

The code is available here.